Objective: Housing First with assertive community treatment (ACT) is a promising approach to assist people with serious mental illness to exit homelessness. The article presents two-year findings from a multisite trial on the effectiveness of Housing First with ACT.
Methods: The study design was a randomized controlled trial conducted in five Canadian cities. A sample of 950 participants with serious mental illness who were absolutely homeless or precariously housed were randomly assigned to receive either Housing First with ACT (N=469) or treatment as usual (N=481).
Results: Housing First participants spent more time in stable housing than participants in treatment as usual (71% versus 29%, adjusted absolute difference [AAD]=42%, p<.01). Compared with treatment-as-usual participants, Housing First participants who entered housing did so more quickly (73 versus 220 days, AAD=146.4, p<.001), had longer housing tenures at the study end-point (281 versus 115 days, AAD=161.8, p<.01), and rated the quality of their housing more positively (adjusted standardized mean difference [ASMD]=.17, p<.01). Housing First participants reported higher quality of life (ASMD=.15, p<.01) and were assessed as having better community functioning (ASMD=.18, p<.01) over the two-year period. Housing First participants showed significantly greater gains in community functioning and quality of life in the first year; however, differences between the two groups were attenuated by the end of the second year.
Conclusions: Housing First with ACT is an effective approach in various contexts for assisting individuals with serious mental illness to rapidly exit homelessness.